Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Calumny

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | Jun 15, 2003

"Gregory Peck, a star of quiet dignity," reads the headline of the NYT obituary -- a judgment as perspicacious as billing Sylvester Stallone as a world-class boxer. It is no disparagement of Peck's acting abilities to remember that, to his enduring shame, he was party to one of the vilest acts of calumny in modern politics. In 1987, Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was subjected to a campaign of character assassination so cynical in its ferocity that it added a new verb -- "borking" -- to the English lexicon. Says the Times:

Bork supporters were incensed by the campaign against their candidate, reserving much of their criticism for a 60-second television spot, paid for by People for the American Way, in which Mr. Peck said of Judge Bork, among other things: "He defended poll taxes and literacy tests which kept many Americans from voting. He opposed the civil rights law that ended 'whites only' signs at lunch counters. He doesn't believe the Constitution protects your right to privacy."

Peck was not simply a face-for-hire here, mouthing who-cares-what script from the teleprompter with a check in his coat pocket; he was willingly complicit in the detraction. Those unfamiliar with the issues at stake might easily miss the fact that the Times is continuing the anti-Bork war even in Peck's obit: by the language of "Bork supporters" and "their candidate" we are meant to infer that the judicial process as a whole is simply one more operation of partisan politics -- exactly the contrary of Bork's own conviction and an example of the cynicism against which his highly disciplined intellectual objectivity was directed throughout his career.

Bork is the man of quiet dignity. The tragedy is that Peck, who played one on TV, should have done so too well.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($25,337 to go):
$150,000.00 $124,662.96
17% 83%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Denial of Service Attack: Success! December 19
Federal debt as a social-justice concern December 19
Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle December 18
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed December 18
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? December 18

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17